Than who is he that will take pleasure in vayne apparell, which if it be worne but a while will fall to ragges, and if it be not worne, will soone rotte or els be eaten with mothes.

Anatomie of Abuses. Philip Stubbes.

The past week I’ve been terribly sick, and while I was not able to read or write anything worthwhile, I did discover as I recovered that I was still able to Photoshop. In a fit of sickness induced Photoshop madness, I created a variety of early modern T-shirts and products and posted them to Zazzle. I realize that the audience for these creations is extremely limited, and while most of my Zazzle creations are parodies, I am trying to fund my site without needing to add ridiculous and unrelated ads. While there are plenty of custom Shakespeare products and shirts, many other areas of early modern literature are left out of the hipsterish internet trends. If you are looking for some oddball early modern and Renaissance wear, look no further. With any of the below, you can customize your own color and product. I will add more styles and shirts in the future, but wanted to post a sampling of my first fit of “Ren Lyfe” madness. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas for future unsellable wear, let me know!

And yet to the maintenance of their pleasures, or to nouzle themselves in their vanities (whether it be in apparel, gamening, gadding to plaies, masking, dauncing, bellicheare, shewes, or such like).

Th’ Overthrow of Stage-Playes. John Rainolds.

I begin with the shirt I’m voting most likely to sell once. For years I’ve been looking for a necklace with Michel de Montaigne’s emblem of “Que Sais-je” above scales, but my searches have always come up empty. While I still haven’t found the engraved necklace I’d hoped for, I decided to do the next best things and create an image based on the motto and put it onto a variety of Zazzle items. I am not sure how many philosophical skeptics besides myself who are out there who want to show their ignorance and desire for ataraxia to the world, but, if there are, and you have stumbled on this site, here you go.

Here is a version for lighter colored products that just have the outline:


For most of our novell Inventions and new fangled fashions, rather deformeth, than adorneth us: disguise us, then become us: making us rather, to resemble savage Beastes and stearne Monsters, then continent, sober and chaste Christians.
–Philip Stubbes.

The fact that Thomas Nashe is one of my all time early modern favorites led me to create the following “Nasherie” shirt. It is unfortunate that Nashe gets very little T-shirt love. I used the woodcut of Nashe found in Gabriel Harvey’s The Trimming of Thomas Nashe (1597).

(You can also find the lighter shirt version and a men’s cut on the Zazzle store site)

While posting the above, I noticed that Zazzle also sold luggage tags, and discovering that inspired me to make one more set of Nashe items for his The Unfortunate Traveller. Sure, only a handful of people have actually read about Jack Wilton’s misadventures, but the lure of the luggage tag proved too strong for me to resist.

(You can also find the same image and text on a variety of other Zazzle products).

For doth not swearing, tearing, and blaspeminge of the Name of God, doth not stinkinge Whoredome, Thefte, Robberie, Deceipt, Fraude, Cosenage, fighting, Quareling, and sometymes Murder, doth not pride, rapine, drunkns, beggerye, and in fine, a shamefull end followe it, as the shadow doth follow the body? Wherefore I will not doubte to call these gaming howses, the slaughter howses the shambles or blockhowses of the Devill, wherein he butchereth Christen mens soules infinit waies, God knoweth, the Lord suppresse them.
–Philip Stubbes.

Now that I had Thomas Nashe represented in the Internet’s world of wearable geekery, I decided that other great prose fiction writer Robert Greene also needed representation. While I may try to make a Pandosto shirt eventually, I decided to go with an image that I always thought tattoo worthy, the frontispiece from A Notable Discovery of Coosenage (1592). While most people will probably mistake it for a Donnie Darko shirt, this hard drinking, gambling, ne’er-do-well rabbit is positively an early modern badass. I honestly think that any fledgling motorcycle gangs currently without a symbol need to adopt this guy. What better way to show your love of conny-catching gulls. Recommended for varlets, bawds, panders, boozers, roughians, and vagabonds.

(As with all of the above, you can find other styles and products on the store site, and can change the color of the shirt as you see fit.)

And, of course, since Zazzle offers playing cards, this was a logical choice:

These prophane schedules, sacraligious libels, and hethnical pamphlets of toyes & bableries (the Authors wherof may vendicate to them selues no smal commendations, at the hands of the deuil for inuenting the same) corrupt mens mindes, peruert good wits, allure to baudrie, induce to whordome, suppresse vertue & erect vice: which thing how should it be otherwise? for are they not inue~ted & excogitat by Belzebub written by Lucifer, licensed by Pluto, printed by Cerberus & set a broche to sale by the infernal furies themselues to ye poysning of the whole world: But let the Inue~tors, the licensors, the printers & the sellers of these vaine toyes and more then Hethnicall impieties take heed for the blood of all those which perish or take hurt thorow these wicked bookes, shalbe powred vpon their heads at the day of iudgement, and be required at their hands.
–Philip Stubbes

My next creation might be a little bit of a flop since it is already the tattoo style of choice for early modern book nerd types, but I thought I would give it a go. This one features Aldus Manutius’ printer’s device and motto, a dolphin wrapped around an anchor with the Latin inscription “festina lente” [hasten slowly] which Aldus adopted in 1501. I suppose this is a less permanent display of early modern nerdery for those who are not yet ready to get the tat.

Yet into the actor there might there grow some hurt by acquainting him selfe with hypocriticall faining of hunger, beggerie, wrath, and shedding of blood.
–John Rainolds

My next idea came from noticing that while there were Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedie shirts available elsewhere on the internet, those others used a full distorted image of the title page, but there Hieronimo still lacked a product befitting his madness. For this one, I decided to go with the subtitle, “Hieronimo is Mad Againe” rather than the main title just to make something a little different. Tell everyone that you’re only a failed speech act away from biting out your own tongue!

Who be more bawdie than they? who vncleaner than they, who more licentious, and loose minded? who more incontinent than they? And briefely, who more inclyned to all kind of insolencie and lewdnes than they? Wherfore, if you wold haue your sonne, softe, womannish, vncleane, smoth mouthed, affected to bawdrie, scurrilitie, filthie rimes, and vnsemely talking: brifly, if you wold haue him, as it weare transnatured into a woman, or worse, and inclyned to all kind of whordome and abhomination, set him to dauncing school, and to learn musicke, and than shall you not faile of your purpose. And if you would haue your daughter whoorish, bawdie, and vncleane, and a filthie speaker, and such like, bring her vp in musick and dauncing, and my life for youres, you haue wonne the goale.
–Philip Stubbes

Finally, I did some searching and discovered to my horror that no one has yet created a shirt for William Kempe, the famous and beloved English early modern actor. I hope to create a dancing William Kempe GIF in the near future from this template, but I also thought this would make a valuable addition to the unsellable “Ren Lyfe” line that was the product of a sickness-addled brain. Perhaps as a result of my delirium, I decided to play with this one a little more and created a “Big Kempin” version. I could not ignore Shakespeare completely in this enterprise.

(If anyone actually wants a straight up Kempe shirt, let me know and I will post it).

I suppose this isn’t the best or even a real way to monetize my site and make it fund itself, but at least I was able to geek out and have some fun along the way. If nothing else, at least I now have cleaned up images to create future tattoos, #WoodcutWednesday GIFs, and Youtube videos. Now that I’m feeling better, I should get back to some serious scholarship and work. One thing is certain, however, Philip Stubbes and John Rainolds would not have approved of my efforts. Surely all of these creations are abominations.

Since they are easier to see in this format, here’s a gallery of the postcard versions of each design:

Distressed Hieronimo Is Mad Againe Postcards
Distressed Hieronimo Is Mad Againe Postcards by senseshaper
Shop for Renaissance Postcards online at

And here is a Conrad Gesner octopus for good measure:

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